“The tricky thing with Sparks is that – and this is a good thing about the band – there’s no one album that tells you the whole story.”
That’s Edgar Wright, the director of the new documentary The Sparks Brothers, explaining why any list of Sparks music on the Internet is only going to scratch the surface of this enigmatic, massively influential band that mainstream music lovers have probably never heard of. But in support of his new film, which details the unlikely 50-year-and-counting journey of Sparks (comprised of brothers Ron and Russell Mael), we had an extended conversation with Wright about his 10 favorite Sparks albums and why they – ahem – struck a chord with him.
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While Pixar’s Soul grappled with existential questions about what happens before and after death, the studio pivoted to a far simpler story with its latest movie, Luca, the story of a sea monster who can pass as a human boy on the surface and who yearns for freedom. But it didn’t always have such a simple narrative.
I spoke with director Enrico Casarosa and producer Andrea Warren in a recent Zoom interview about earlier iterations of this story, their film’s LGBTQ+ metaphor, how parts of Luca were subconsciously inspired by Fellini’s 8 1/2, working with the folks at Vespa to incorporate that brand into the film, and more.
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Like all Pixar movies, Luca went through several significant changes on its path to its final cut – including a wildly different ending that was totally overhauled by the time the completed version was finished. The studio is famous for breaking down its stories over and over again until they shape the story into its ideal form, and for Luca, part of that process involved cutting out an initial ending which involved a kraken. Liam Neeson, eat your heart out. Read More »
This week brings Edgar Wright‘s first feature documentary to theaters. The Sparks Brothers is a comprehensive, amusing, and wonderful documentary about the influential pop rock duo known as Sparks. If that name isn’t familiar to you, don’t worry. This film will tell you everything you need to know about Sparks, along with things people think they know about Sparks. And when all is said and done, you might just be a new fan.
When The Sparks Brothers debuted at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year, we sat down to talk with Edgar Wright and Sparks (aka Ron and Russell Mael) about having a 50-year music career boiled down to a 140-minute documentary, and playing with the traditional style of music documentaries. Plus, we talk about some of the fun “facts” that have been spread around about the duo over the decades and whether there might be another collaboration between them in the future. Read More »
This month marks a milestone for one of the most underrated Disney films. The Rocketeer arrived in theaters in the summer of 1991, delivering a 1930s-era adventure of a pilot who stumbles upon a jetpack being sought after by gangsters, FBI agents, Nazis, and millionaire industrialist Howard Hughes. Though the film failed to take off at the box office, its fans are legion (and this writer counts himself among them).
As the film turns 30, /Film sat down virtually with Billy Campbell, the actor who made his debut as Cliff Secord, the Rocketeer himself. Talking from his home of Norway, Campbell discussed the experience of making the film, conquering his fear of flying, his love of Master and Commander, and much more.
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Today brings the second episode of Marvel’s Loki to Disney+, and it thrusts us straight into the pursuit of a dangerous time criminal who has been assaulting Time Variant Authority agents and stealing their time-altering gadgets. In addition to putting Tom Hiddleston into full-on time detective mode alongside Owen Wilson as Mobius, the episode also brings Sophia Di Martino into the series as a surprising and mysterious character.
Find out what Tom Hiddleston had to say about working with the actress in this pivotal new role, but beware of major spoilers for the second episode of Loki, now streaming on Disney+. Read More »
The Tomorrow War is a big action movie full of time travel, monsters, special effects, and everything else you’d expect from a popcorn-powered summer release. But the core of the film is about what one generation owes the next, and the personal responsibility parents have to ensure a safer existence for their children. And it’s also about Chris Pratt shooting aliens, but who says you can’t have both?
Screenwriter Zach Dean agrees with that much. Speaking with him on Zoom ahead of the film’s release on Amazon Prime Video next month, we talked about what it’s like to write terrifying alien monsters and action scenes, but also the serious questions and big ideas that drew him to write this story in the first place. And while the script was written before the COVID-19 pandemic, Dean notes that the film’s central threat can’t help but feel like a reflection of the horror of the past year, an element that makes a film with a modern message feel all the more timely.
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Luca, the latest film from Pixar, is a rollicking, sun-dappled adventure set in a small seaside Italian town. Like The Little Mermaid, the film follows a young sea dweller who discovers what it’s like to live on the surface world and yearns for freedom. The only problem is that small seaside town’s residents hate and fear sea monsters – kind of like how the residents of Berk hate and fear dragons in How to Train Your Dragon. But those earlier animation touchstones are far from the only projects that inspired Luca – director Enrico Casarosa also took inspiration from the films of famed Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.
I spoke with Casarosa about the Fellini movies that inspired Luca, including 8 1/2 and I Vitelloni.
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When Justin Lin was directing 2013’s Fast & Furious 6, the idea of bringing the action series to an end was a pipe dream. Lin was preparing to exit the Fast and Furious franchise, moving on to direct a Star Trek film and episodes of prestige TV like True Detective, and the concept of bringing the Fast and Furious movies to a satisfying close was something better suited to casual chatter with star Vin Diesel, not something that was actually on the table. Cut to nine years later, and Lin is preparing to bring the first part of Fast and Furious‘s closing trilogy to theaters. But the movie has been long in the works, with the story stemming back to those conversations that Lin had with Diesel and Paul Walker, before the latter’s death in 2013.
“Vin [Diesel] would come in and talk and Paul [Walker] was actually part of that conversation,” Lin told me in an interview ahead of the U.S. theatrical debut of F9. “And I’ve always thought it was just an exercise, I was thinking, ‘We’re never going to realize it.’ And then when I came back for this, Vin said, ‘Well, now that I got you back, you’re not leaving. We’re gonna finish this thing together.'”
In our interview, Lin talks about the idea that inspired him to return to direct F9, which he co-writes with Daniel Casey, being bullied into sticking around by Diesel, Justice for Han, and the scrapped practical stunt that he regrets not using his own money to pay for.
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At some point, you started recognizing J.K. Simmons. Maybe you started recognizing him after his scene-stealing role as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies. Maybe you started recognizing him after he won an Oscar for his terrifying work in Whiplash. Hell, maybe you’ve been recognizing him for years — few actors are as busy, and fewer are so consistently reliable.
Simmons has a supporting role in the new science fiction film The Tomorrow War, the kind of small-but-important role he has been elevating for decades. But unlike 20 years ago, you know his character is important the moment he shows up just because he’s played by an actor every movie fan has grown to adore. J.K. Simmons has become Hollywood’s least-hidden chameleon.
Speaking over Zoom ahead of the July release of The Tomorrow War, I asked Simmons about his rise through the ranks of Hollywood “that guys,” the impressive beard he sports throughout the new film, a key moment in Whiplash that has never left my mind, and whether he’s down to return for a Spider-Man movie again.
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